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Interview von: arne mit Extol, am: 04.07.2013 ]

Angesichts des großartigen neuen Zehn-Trackers ist die Rückkehr der Skandinavier mehr als willkommen. Die zum Trio geschrumpfte Gruppe lässt ihrer Kreativität freien Lauf. Weder halten sich die Musiker mit – vermeintlichen – Konventionen auf noch nehmen sie Rücksicht auf das, was gemeinhin die Grenzen progressiver (Metal-)Musik beschreibt. EXTOL folgen ausschließlich und überaus konsequent ihrer Intuition und ihrer fordernden Kreativität. Der Weg ist gleichermaßen das Ziel und Mittel zum Zweck. Eine verbindende Absicht und übergeordnete Spannungsbögen sind auf der selbstbetitelten Platte dabei jenseits aller Freigeistigkeit durchaus zu spüren. Allein sie zu erkennen, erfordert Zeit und ein aufmerksames Ohr.


Musicscan: What moments in the bands history for you sum up the whole experience of Extol so far, what fuels your fire to continue, and why did you decide to come back again?

Extol: I don't know. It must be the feeling of getting back together for this new album with Peter and Ole after all these years. It just feels so familiar and also so natural. When you've done something for many years, and you have a break, and later reunite - if the chemistry, creativity and the sound is still there, it's just such kick. Two years ago we flirted with the idea of doing another album, and to my surprise, all three of us decided to go for it. So when we make music now it feels like we sum up our history. We just wanted to make our best album ever!

Musicscan: Extol has always seemed to me to be an underdog band, always maintaining a high level of respect from critics and their peers, though never quite attaining the commercial success that the band was due. How do you feel about it?

Extol: It's easy to get stuck to how other people define you or in what other people think of you. In my opinion Extol has never made music for others than ourselves. Respect can sometimes feel satisfying, but if it affect your songwriting, something is seriously wrong. We play weird metal - how can we ever consider a commercial success for this band?

Musicscan: Extol is inextricably linked to the Christian scene and has had much influence on that scene. I was hoping you could share your thoughts on what makes that scene tick, and on Extol’s place within it.

Extol: Extol never defined itself inside a «Christian Scene», but the fans and music industry did. I guess there are both cons and pros about creating your own scene or sub-culture. The «Christian Scene» has a strong following of people whom are not only in it for the music. When a scene like that adopt your band, and the band appeal both musically and also message wise, then the potential of getting dedicated fans increases. I guess we influenced lots of people and bands over the years. If they appreciate what we do, I'm more than happy. They can define us inside or outside, We don't care too much about that.

Musicscan: I'm seeing you called everything from post-metal to prog and art-rock, which is interesting if not amusing. What are your thoughts on this?

Extol: There are certainly quite many prog elements in our music. In my head we always played metal. But by mixing other elements and different types of genres into your metal songwriting, things starts to become interesting for real. People can name our music whatever they want, in my opinion we'll end up bleeding metal anyhow, one way or another.

Musicscan: There are a lot of bands now that are heavy without really using metal aesthetics. Do you feel like a part of that? What current bands do you think of as your peers or bands that you feel a commonality with?

Extol: No, I don't feel we are like that. What makes us sound heavy are absolutely coming from influences from other metal bands. We were always inspired by early death metal bands like Death, Pestilence and Obituary, and on the other hand we appreciated progressive hard rock. King's X, Rush and Yes were definitely huge inspirations for our new album.

Musicscan: Does being a trio now make managing the band and the musical progression easier or harder?

Extol: To be honest, it made everything a lot easier. To make 5 people work together is way harder than 3. On the other hand, being fewer involved in the creative process will demand so much more of each member. The result now is probably different compared to how it would have been if we had 5 members on board.

Musicscan: As far as I´m concerned this new album is more rock-orientated on the one hand side, as well as it is a very atmospheric record on the other hand. How do you feel it differs from Blueprint?

Extol: Its different from «Blueprint» in so many ways. Ole, the guitar player, has a totally different touch to his playing compared to both the guitar players on «Blueprint». In general this album feels a bit more metal. «Blueprint» has more dynamics towards a directions of alternative rock. This album picks up the melodic adventure right where it ended on «Blueprint», but the drumming, guitars and growling go straight back to the cores of old death metal and thrash.

Musicscan: Musically, and especially lyrically, Extol seems like a band fueled by raw emotion which is at the same time tempered by a - let's say - disconnected vibe. What are the motives behind writing in this style, what reactions are you seeking to evoke in your audience?

Extol: We've always written about what's in our hearts and on our minds. Peter and I wrote the lyrics this time, so we should be blamed for where we are taking the audience. The lyrics reflect our shortcomings and our wishes to recognize them. By giving them attention, we might learn to change. We write about where to put our hopes when we live on this dark planet. We also try to remind ourselves about who we are and about the dreams we used to have. I don't feel our music is disconnected from the lyrics at all. Our music has never been that dark. The songs can sometimes come across as extremely emotional, in forms of variations and unpredictable shifting - and intentionally it's supposed to be that way. Honest, energetic, leveling, raw and extolling.

Musicscan: The high level of musicianship on display on your comeback album makes me wonder whether you took any lessons or theory classes? I ask because you guys seem to me to be one of those bands that knew the rules before breaking them...

Extol: We actually never took any lessens at all. Ole has been doing music professionally since he was very young, so I guess he just naturally learned to fit in to whatever musical setting he was part of from very early on.. Peter and I have been in Extol since -93. We practiced our asses off to reach the level where we are at right now. I guess the urge to create something new leads us to the weird songwriting and performances you can hear on the records.

Musicscan: Listening to the new album quite a bit, I have been noticing a little more groove and flow. Is this something guys tried to do with the new stuff or did the writing process just head in that direction?

Extol: Absolutely. We definitely went towards this direction on purpose. In so many ways we've followed our dreams during the years. On every album we went nuts with rhythms, melodies and explored new ground to constantly renew our song structures. This time we felt like it was time to create something more solid and thought through - make metal that we all could really bang our heads to without getting out of it every third second.

Musicscan: I was very impressed of the emotional depth of the record. Is atmosphere something what has became more important to the band?

Extol: It always was, I don't feel this is something new with this band at all. Though many of our structures may come through as ridiculously cynical, we can't really prevent putting our souls in to what we make. I guess some of the atmosphere you are referring to appears naturally when we do that.

Musicscan: Your music and sound(s) are rooted in dark atmospheres and content. Tell us how important maintaining these overtones are to the band's mindset, please.

Extol: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I don't feel that our music is that dark after all. People may perceive the whole package that way, because of the frames of metal, double kicks and super brutal growling. But the fact is that we write whatever we feel like. All the energy we put into the music may come across as big, extreme and punchy, but I don't believe there are that much darkness going on in the Extol-camp.

Musicscan: What type of mood/feeling are you trying to convey sonically with Extol? Is there an underlying idea behind your new album that can stand for the record as a whole?

Extol: The meanings of the word, extol, is to "lift up" or "honor". I believe those meanings have been quite important through the making of this new album. We believe that there is a God, a creative force, who gave us these abilities of making music in the first place. The whole feeling of thankfulness by the fact that we are back together and able to spend our talents on what we love the most, is just overwhelming to us. The underlying idea behind our new album,"Extol", is to honor God.

Musicscan: You made a comeback album that displays diversity, honesty and true character. It seems like this is a whole new start for you guys. Did you feel more change once you hit the studio or did everything come to you while writing for the album?

Extol: No, I believe this happened the moment we re-gathered. There is a strong bonding between us, both creatively and spiritually, and we got synced very early in the process. We all knew what we were aiming for from the beginning, that was just the way it was.

Musicscan: How do you feel the "old school fans" of Extol are going to react? Do you feel that you can still capture their attention or are you ready to broaden your fan base and branch out?

Extol: Haha, that's a difficult one... I know Extol 2013 sounds more mature than we ever did before. Some of the superfast technical stuff and black metal influences you might find in our early days, may not be as present on this new album. But our old fans won't be disappointed, that's what I think, personally. We haven't been this metal for ages. And as stated earlier, our motivation has never been to please anyone else than ourselves. If you hate this album, that's fine. If you like this album, it would mean it was meant for you!

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